These early debates have an inevitable fascination for the politically obsessed, even though this far out, the best that one can usually expect is that someone will soil themselves irrevocably and be led off the stage weeping.
That didn’t exactly occur, and the best we saw was some frantic bitch slaps.
Pawlenty is a guy who seems to shrink into himself more and more each time you see him. He appears to have abandoned Minnesota Nice, and may consider it a victory if all he does is wrestle Bachmann to the floor. With each passing day, it seems less likely that he’ll be around for the semi-finals.
Ron Paul acts like he just came in from a remake of “My Dinner with Ross Perot”. One could almost make out the ghost of Patsy Cline humming “Crazy” just over his shoulder. Ron Paul had a lot to do with inspiring the Tea Party, and you have to thank him for some of the points he’s brought up over the last 10 years, but a Ron Paul Presidency is just not gonna happen, and that’s a good thing.
Newt was there, is all his glory as an Oracle. You can’t deny that Newt is a smart guy and an original thinker, but that bag of quirks he drags around with him is just insurmountable. Million Dollar Tiffany Bills? Bad behaviour with wives number One and Two on the way to Number Three? Cozy appearances with Nancy Pelosi on the discredited Global Warming Issue. This guy doesn’t have an Achilles Heel: he needs a half body cast.
Many folks don’t even think he’s running for President, but is just trying to keep himself relevant and in the game as a “go to” guy. That ship has sailed, or sunk or been lost at sea. Still, he spits out ideas like a machine, and every so often has the capacity to stun with with a remarkable insight.
Does the US have a Political Poet Laureate or an Ideas General? Perhaps we should. Think what the uniform would look like.
How about the Mittster then, how did he do? Well, he didn’t step in it, and he does impress most everyone that he would bring a cheerful competence to the job if elected, but inexplicably, he just seems to be one of those guys that “cool” will never find. He’s almost got it all: a real world resume, good looks, affable personality, lots of money: yet there just doesn’t seem to be a burning inner core. It doesn’t seem likely that he can ever square the circle on “Romneycare” and why that was good if Obamacare is bad. He is clearly the front runner and could take Obama down, but there’s one other flaw that no one mentions: he doesn’t have the killer instinct of the political closer. Fatally flawed as Obama is, you know that he and his team do have that going for them. That may be all they have going for them.
Herman Cain was there last night, and as usual, was forthright and refreshing. One wishes that he’d entered politics 15 years ago so he’d be a little closer to the brass ring with some electoral experience. He is clearly a very capable executive with steel confidence, a sense of humour, and values that resonate with a large part of the electorate, but it’s hard to see him going all the way.
Huntsman. This is another guy the media had a purple crush on, and after dancing off stage for most of the last year, he finally outed himself with an event at the Statue of Liberty, and pretty much handicapped himself that very day. Remember Reagan starting his campaign at that iconic monument in the 1980 campaign? Most people do, and Huntsman seemed 3 foot tall by comparison.
An observer of the scene mentioned that “Huntsman clearly got lost on the way to the Democratic debate and decided to play anyhow”, and there’s a lot of truth to that. He may be a wonderful fellow, a great MX racer, a legitimate rocker, and a competent governor for Utah, but he seems to align himself with the pantheon of Rockefeller Republicans, known these days as RINO’s. Huntsman won’t be making the move to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue anytime soon.
This leaves us with Bachmann and Santorum. Sometimes Bachmann is reminiscent of Reagan – no, no, no, it’s not that she has the breadth or depth or Reagan at this point, but she seems to be optimistic and unflappable and we have yet to really see her knocked off her game or her message. She may very well be too rigid and too far to the right for most voters, but do not underestimate her appeal. It’s clear the main stream media loath her and will do everything in their power to ruin her, but she may very well have the ability to smile her way past that and connect with 51% or more of the electorate.
Santorum is — just a good and decent guy. He knows what he believes, and sticks by his positions unequivocally. No matter how much heat he gets on issues like gay marriage and Right to Life, he stands his ground in a way that discounts the bile of the liberal culture. (If you don’t know what he has to put up with, try Googling “santorum”. Is that really necessary Mr Schmidt?). Although never a governor with an executive background, he probably has more of the kind of government experience we should have in a Presidential candidate than anyone else on the national stage.
Yet his chances are bleak. The ever so self congratulatory media establishment loves to write him off, and although he works hard, it’s difficult for him to get traction. But we predict a surprise. Expect Santorum to do much better in this weekend’s straw poll than anyone expects.
Anyone else? Well, there’s a rumble coming from Texas and Rick Perry could stride over the landscape like a giant, with sharp political skills and an engaging message. Or not. Too often we’ve awaited a candidate who seemed to have promise, only to watch him dissolve when he hit the national stage.
One more. The ever intriguing Sarah Palin announced that she’d take her “One Nation” into Iowa this weekend, right as the Republicans are already whipped to a frenzy. It’s not likely she will run, but is kind of like a 2011 political version of the Merry Pranksters, checking to see if the other candidates are on the bus or not.
If you’re a political junkie, you just have to love the chaos and imbalance. Further!